Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Obama Needs to Change from Reactive to Proactive

As President of the United States of America and arguably the most powerful person in the world, Barack Obama is our “leader”. Unfortunately, he does not seem to understand the concept of “leading”. Don’t get me wrong, he along with his staff, is very good at “managing” things. They can put together impressive backdrops for his speeches and they handle public relations events at the White House very well. They can even handle press conferences nicely (even if there are far too few). What he is not very good at doing is taking the lead on the important and pressing international situations.

Iran and North
Korea are rapidly developing nuclear weapons capabilities that threaten the peace and security of the entire world and are pointedly anti-American. President Obama should be aggressively proactive in confronting these threats but he is letting events lead him by continuing to be reactive. He continually waits until they take some provocative action and then he "manages" a response.

The Iranians are aggressively seeking to extend their influence over the oil-fields of the middle-east. They are moving rapidly towards nuclear armament while, at the same time, funding and providing arms and training to terrorist and insurgent organizations from Palestine to Afghanistan. Iran has openly declared over and over again that their ultimate goal, their mission ordained by Allah, is the total domination of the world by their radical view of the Islamic religion. A goal they believe will be advanced by obtaining viable nuclear weaponry.

North Korean, despite its destitute and starving population, has learned how to intimidate, blackmail and extort western powers into providing political concessions, cash, food and even infrastructure material support each time they rattle their nuclear saber. In spite of repeated promises to stop and even dismantle their nuclear arms programs they have continued to increase their arsenal and ability to deliver weapons.

Last month an explosion sank a South Korean warship, killing 46 sailors. Investigators said it appeared an external explosion (possibly a torpedo or mine) sunk the ship. This was no accident. It is very likely that North Korea launched a sneak attack. While the South Korean government is avoiding talk of reprisal, all of Asia is on edge. With tensions already high, North Korea announced it might test a nuclear weapon this month. The situation is dangerous and deteriorating.

President Obama has enough experience to know how to effectively deliver rhetoric promoting economic and political plans for domestic consumption by the American people. He can navigate astutely through the maze of Washington politics and promote plans for revising Health Care, bailing out major industries and winning the support of the Democrat controlled Congress for his programs. Unfortunately his experience has not been enough to teach him that people outside the United States have attitudes, cultures and goals that are different and often in conflict with ours. He fails to realize that in many countries the United States has been admired and sought out as a valuable friend and ally not just because we are so likable, but because we are powerful. He continually repeats the mistake of trying to bring other countries closer by undermining the very thing that has made them pay attention to and respect our interests in the first place –namely our ability and willingness to use our economic, industrial and military power and to project it anywhere in the world at a moments notice. He has surrounded himself with dozens of advisers who have a mistaken belief that the world wants to be just like us. That everyone will like us and want to be like us if we just treat them nice, put down our weapons and give them enough money. His entire approach is juvenile and intellectually bankrupt (which is, sadly, how it may very well leave the country).

The President simply does not understand that rhetoric does not stop a totalitarian dictatorship from committing mass-murder, intimidating its people and its neighbors nor using any means necessary to spread its power and influence. He does not see that you can not talk religious fanatics into changing their beliefs.

Iran will use nuclear weapons if they get them. That is a simple fact. Just because is it something that people do not like to hear does not mean it is not true. The Israelis know it. The Saudis know it. The Egyptians know it. I believe even President Obama knows it, but he does not want to face it and just does not know what to do about it.

In resent days we have been hearing more and more about how we will “contain” Iran if it gets a nuclear weapon. That sounds like the President is starting to face the idea that his “sanctions” are ineffective and that he will be unable to talk our “friends” into joining in increasing them. He is resigning himself to the idea that an Iranian nuclear capability is inevitable and he is deluding himself into thinking that it can be controlled through diplomacy and a policy of appeasement.

History has taught us about containment and appeasement. Those policies by Britain and France with Germany lead directly to Word War II. Those policies following World War II with the Soviet Union lead to the enslavement of Eastern Europe for 50 years. And those policies now with Iran and North Korea will lead to World War III!

We have just learned that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told the White House in January, via a secret memo, that the U.S. lacks "an effective long-range policy for dealing with Iran's steady progress toward nuclear capability." The purpose of that memo was to advise the President that the Secretary of Defense feels we need to do some contingency planning and to decide on, and prepare for, military options. He is telling the President that talking about doing something is not the same as preparing to do something or actually doing something.

The time for discussion and debate has already passed. Sanctions have not worked. Diplomacy has not worked. Containment and Appeasement will not work. It is time for the President of the United States of America to stop being reactive and become proactive. It is time he stopped letting events lead him and for him to start taking the lead, for real.

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